The Pet Butler

by Karin Britt Gall

My daughter, Kristin, greeted me from her usual spot in the coffeehouse, waving at me with one hand and drinking what looked like a hot chocolate with the other.

“Hey, what happened to the décor? Looks like they redecorated,” I said.

She frowned. “Yeah, I asked Julian, he’s the manager, what happened to the green chair in this corner and he said it was too far gone. Couldn’t be saved. But they reupholstered the rest of the stuff.”

I smirked. “So, your heart is broken?”

“Hey, lots of people liked that chair. I usually have a hard time snagging this area for you.”

Since she’s seldom on time, I ignored her remark. “Look, today I want to talk about a new business venture.”

“Yeah? You getting tired of writing?”

“No, I thought you might want to start a little business. It would help you on your income taxes.”

“Look mom, I already make so little with my customer service job that it’s next to impossible to get into a lower tax bracket. Any lower and I’ll be on welfare.”

“All the more reason for you to expand and become a business owner. Jack says he saw the perfect thing,” I said, referring to her stepfather.

“Where is the old fart anyway?”

“Golfing.”

Kristin made a rude noise. “I can’t understand why grown men follow little balls across manicured grass and call it a sport.”

“Exercise.”

“Right.”

“Anyway, he says that the sales manager in his office pays over $60 a month for a service to poop scoop his yard.”

Kristin’s hand shook almost spilling her hot chocolate. At first I thought she was clumsy, and then I realized she was laughing. “You’re kidding. Someone pays money to have their dog poop picked up? How lazy can you get?”

“Well, busy working people hire maids and lawn services and things like that.”

She giggled. “What do they call it? We be dog poop removal and stuff?”

“Animal Waste Removal. It’s a niche business. A legitimate need.”

“I’ll say. Okay, lay it on me. How much do I need to invest? Do they sell franchises?”

“Umm, I’m not sure.”

“That’d make sense. They could divide it up according to zip codes or suburban territories.”

“It would be a low investment, work for yourself business. All you need is a pick up truck and some tools like shovels and scoops.”

“Shovels? What the heck am I picking up after? Horses?”

“No, but some dogs are bigger than others,” I said, visualizing Great Danes and St. Bernards.

“I have to tell you that $60 a month sounds kind of low when you consider what you’re dealing with.” She wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Not really. You’d go once a week, clean for a few minutes and go onto the next place. It’d be easy money.”

“If it’s so easy and so great, then how come other people aren’t killing themselves to do it? I mean there is rampant unemployment out there.”

“I suppose the messiness and subject matter has a lot to do with it. Remember George Jefferson from the TV sitcom The Jeffersons? He ended up owning a string of dry cleaners. He dealt with people’s dirty laundry.”

“Yeah, well he didn’t offer to clean their toilets did he?”

She had me there. “Cleaning toilets is honest work.”

“I know. Thanks, but when I said I wouldn’t mind a second job, I was thinking about doing some silk flower arrangements or crafts. Something fun.”

“I just thought this would be good to do in your spare time. Since you work second shift, it’d be ideal.”

“No thanks. Let’s see, how I would list that on my resume? Pooper Scooper Extraordinaire?”

“Okay. Okay. It was just a thought.”

“And just think about if I expanded the business. I can just read the wording in the classified ad now. ‘Hard-working person wanted. Musn’t be afraid to get hands dirty.’”

“I’m sure you’d want to wear gloves.”

“Oh yeah, and boots. Hip boots, in case I have a client with a Great Dane.”

“It was just a thought,” I said, defensively.

Kristin took her last bite of brownie and chased it down with her drink. “This has been fun but I need to go clean my apartment. Uh, is this a plot for your next book? You are making this up right?”

“I’m dead serious.”

“I’d have to research it. Just think of all the diseases and stuff you could get.”

“Just think, you could have your own business. Your name could be in neon lights. How about ‘Kristin’s Pet Waste Removal,’ or ‘Kristin’s Pooper Scooper Inc.’ Your tagline could be, ‘We scoop poop.’”

“Mom, calm down, and do me a favor. Don’t have the sign made yet.”

Kristin gathered her napkin and plate and cup and headed towards the collection receptacle mumbling, “Disgusting. Can’t believe I’m talking about this crap at breakfast.”

“I think you’re missing a great entrepreneurial opportunity here,” I called, wanting to get in the last word.

“Goodbye Mom,” Kristin said, shaking her blonde ponytail from side to side as she walked out of the café.

The End

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